US President Barack Obama presented the defense budget to the Congress for 2010. On the one hand, the budget has been cut in comparison with what could be seen under George W. Bush’s rule. However, there are several looms in US laws, which excludes a real cut of the nation’s defense spending.
In accordance with Obama’s report, the basic budget of the US Defense Department will make up about $537 billion. The amount is less than that during the previous years, but the situation is not as simple as it may seem to be. It is not clear whether the budget funds will be used to finance the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Either way, there are some mechanisms in the financial system of the United States that allow to receive considerable financial resources in excess of the budget. The Office of Management and Budget is ready to submit an application for the additional funding of wars in the Middle East in the amount of $140 billion.
On the other hand, where is the USA going to take the money from not to increase the budget deficit? Obama decided to cut the spending in the programs of shipbuilding and the further purchasing of fifth generation fighter jets. As for the deployment of the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Obama said that the program would be funded only if it was proved that it would be a paying system.
The unsuccessful wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could not but affect the results of the arms race, which George W. Bush’s administration launched eight years ago. The annual budget of the Pentagon has grown nearly 2.5 times and reached $700 billion since then. The increase of the defense spending was supposed to be used to acquire fifth generation weapon systems and hardware.
As a matter of fact, the biggest part of the Pentagon’s budget is still used to maintain the personnel (21 percent in 2008) and satisfy various economic needs (39 percent). Less than 23 percent is spent on the arms procurement. Now, we repeat, the defense budget of the United States will make up $537 billion.
The Pentagon has an excellent escape clause: the additional provision for warfare, which is not included in the usual budget-approving procedure in the Congress. Such costs may amount to almost $200 billion a year. The package includes current costs and the replenishment of the destroyed and damaged hardware. The emergency spending of the Pentagon included over $70 billion to acquire defense technology in the 2008 financial year.
The share of military costs in the GDP usually grows in times of war. The Pentagon’s budget grew from 3 to 4.2 percent of the GDP under Bush’s rule. Most likely, the army spending is not going to diminish during the upcoming years and will be preserved on the current level. The funding of the modernization of the armed forces is not going to increase much. The military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan will obviously continue. Secondly, the USA will need more funds to withdraw the troops from Iraq.
The US administration acknowledges that it will be extremely difficult to wage any other ground operation. Nevertheless, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that the US Air Force and Navy are perfectly capable of either curbing aggression or punishing it. Gates is certain that there is no country in the world – not even Russia or China - that could compete with the USA in conventional means of armed struggle. Russia’s modern-day army is only a shadow of the Soviet military power, the head of the Pentagon believes.
The Russian Ministry of Defense showed a video of the destruction of US-made M777 towed howitzers in Ukraine. The US systems were destroyed by the Russian Kub (Cube) kamikaze drone